Red Kite co-founder plans new Orion metals fund - sources
* Hires Mike Sheehan to join new fund
* Red Kite co-founder wants to replicate Red Kite model
* Sets up merchant business to sell copper
By Josephine Mason and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. mining financier Oskar Lewnowski is preparing to launch a base and precious metals fund, sources say, his latest step in recreating the famed trading and investment enterprise he co-founded a decade ago, Red Kite.
Two years after striking out on his own to create private equity investment firm Orion Resource Partners, the 50-year-old New York native has already deployed almost $1 billion in equity, loans and royalty streams into at least 17 junior mining firms, and hired a physical metals trader to handle supply.
Now, Lewnowski is preparing for the third phase of his growth plan: setting up a hedge fund that will initially focus on precious and base metals, according to four sources familiar with the plan who are unauthorized to speak to the media.
Mike Sheehan, precious metals portfolio manager at Red Kite's RK Capital Management, will join the yet-to-be-named fund when he leaves Red Kite at the end of July, two of the sources said. The size and timing of the fund were not known, nor was it clear what role he would assume there.
Sheehan worked at Red Kite for nine years and has almost 25 years experience dealing in gold and silver. Continued...